Here’s How and Where to Find the Prettiest Autumn Colors in DC

Casey Trees has created two helpful online maps—for driving and walking.

By: Carol Ross Joynt

The government may be shut down, but Mother Nature isn’t—meaning it’s a great time to observe the change from summer’s green leaves to autumn's explosion of red, yellow, and orange. While most attention is paid to Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park (which is closed by the shutdown) there’s plenty of color right here in Washington.

For those in search of the best places to spot autumn leaves in the city, Casey Trees of Washington—a nonprofit founded in 2001 to look out for DC’s tree canopy—has created two special maps. One is called Fall Color in DC. It not only breaks down the best streets for viewing autumn color but also offers a legend with the names of the trees: red maple, sugar maple, ginkgo biloba, pin oak, and American elm. 

There are specially named routes, too. For example, Minnesota Avenue, Southeast, is the pin oak route, which runs 3.4 miles and promises 392 trees. In Cleveland Park, along Porter Street, Northwest, is a red maple route with 272 trees along 1.4 miles. Another red maple route is behind the Capitol in Northeast—5.4 miles with 1,004 trees. The other map is called Fall Color Density by Street. Washington’s share of autumn color may not be on par with, say, Vermont, but it’s impressive. 

The peak colors are expected now into early November.

According to Casey's website, the technical services and research team created the fall color map as its latest project. “Routes were selected to maximize fall color viewing,” it says. The routes are designed for driving or walking, and one-way streets have designated start and finish points.